Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron said on Thursday he was confident that the 2014 grade 12 national exam—which begins on Monday and has been the subject of massive overhauls to eradicate cheating—could produce a graduating class that had the potential to “restore Angkor.”
Speaking to more than 500 education officials gathered at the National Institute for Education in Phnom Penh, Mr. Naron once more warned students, teachers and proctors that the powerful Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) would be monitoring the exam in 154 exam centers across the country with the power to punish cheats under the law.
“In previous years, there were some rumors of teachers hidden in school grounds to provide answer sheets,” Mr. Naron said of the corruption that has long plagued the national exam. “But this year is very, very strict.”
Mr. Naron has made the two-day exam the sole factor in determining university placement for school leavers after years of ill-prepared graduates moving into tertiary education with skills and knowledge that did not match their qualifications.
He said that more than 2,600 proctors would be deployed to monitor the 93,456 students taking the exam, which he said would cost up to $4 million, in a bid to raise the standard of graduates across the nation.
“If the exam were not strictly carried out this year then the confidence would be lost for next year,” Mr. Naron said. “What we are doing is not to punish but we need the quality of education.”
Om Yentieng, chairman of the ACU, told Thursday’s gathering that more than 3,000 volunteer observers and ACU investigators would be deployed to monitor the exam and that they would be making official complaints if they witnessed any bribery or cheating.
However, he said that those observers and investigators would not enter the 3,779 exam rooms.
“The main goal of the ACU is [we] do not want to see [teachers] abuse their power,” Mr. Yentieng said.